Matthew Cooper aka Eluvium was kind enough to answer a few questions for us via e-mail. Here, you can find his thoughts on file sharing, some book, movie, and album recommendations, as well as a bit of insight into Eluvium’s latest LP, Copia.
* Can you tell us about the moment you first realized that making music was going to be your career?
- I think that ever since I have been truly aware of music or sound, it has seemed obvious to me. Sound has always been one thing in my life I have never questioned or felt uncomfortable with. It is always evolving, as well, from instrument to intention to scientific understanding and experimenting, into simplicity and pop and everywhere in between and others not noted.
* As an artist, what are your thoughts on file sharing and its effects on the music industry?
It’s something that will be, whether you like it or not. It seems sort of foolish to be against it. I personally find the concept of listening to music using a computer very convenient, and when I hear something I like, I go to the record shop and purchase it. It doesn’t seem too different from listening in the store, which most independents have always done. I suppose it is a shame when people take advantage of this ease, but who am I to argue? It is the way that it is. If only all forms of commodities could eventually end up this way we’d be fine. If someone purchases my albums, I can use that money to go to the store to get some tea, but when someone “illegally” downloads my albums, I can’t, unfortunately, download a cup of tea, but things are forever changing. Perhaps, next week, I will be able to. Although a friend of mine was telling me about a new program that can build furniture from any design you draw into it. Perhaps people will one day be illegally downloading furniture.
* Any good books you’ve read lately?
Iâ€™m starting “The Savage Detectives” right now – been wanting to get into this for a while now. Just finished “The Double” by Saramago – that was okay. Wanting to start the Javier Marias books soon. Um… Kobo Abe’s ,”Inter Ice-age 4″. Oh, “Specimen Days” was really good too (Michael Cunningham). Been keeping my eye on “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” as well (Michael Pollan).
Sorry, I like books quite a bit. Iâ€™m usually buying 5 to every 1 that I read.
Other favorites are Murakami, Proust, and W.G.Sebald. The Harry Potter books were fantastic as well, and I also just re-read all the Salinger stuff – can’t go wrong there.
* ..movies you’ve seen lately?
Usually lots of “bad” action movies, espionage and stuff. But my favorite movies to watch are “My Dinner With Andre” and the Pixar catalogue, but “Wings Of Desire” is wonderful too, as is “The Burbs”.
I particularly liked that “Stranger Than Fiction” movie as well. Not sure how much it had to do with Max Richter being in the soundtrack.
* ..albums you’ve listened to lately?
-Murcof – Cosmos
-David Byrne -The Knee Plays
-Glenn Gould- Two and Three Part Inventions (Bach)
-Leon Fleisher – Two Hands (especially his “Sheep May Safely Graze” and his “Clair De Lune” )
-Bedhead – What Fun Life Was
-Benoit Pioulard – Precis
* What was your inspiration for Copia? Was your inspiration similar and/or different from your earlier records? How so?
Aside from nature, which is inherent in everything I do and think, it also had many things to do with waking up early and walking while listening to fantastic records. I think it started with an amalgamation of Moondog, and Gabriel Rheinberger (he’s an organist Iâ€™m fond of). Although I don’t think the records actually influenced me so much as being awake and in a strange and lovely frame of mind, helped by the records. I would usually start working on music immediately on the return home from a walk, which was completely new to me. Everything I had worked on in the past, had been written very very late in the night, somewhere between 3 a.m. and 3:01 a.m.. The kind of late at night that is no longer a time so much as an institution.
* When you begin creating your albums have you already decided what you want the essence of your album to be, or is it something that grows with the album’s construction?
It used to grow one hundred percent with the construction. I suppose that was another change in style and attempt. Since the E.P., and much more so with Copia, there was a lot more songwriting prior, and definitely more of a chosen direction. Although, I still wouldn’t try to control it so much so that intention prevails over experimentation. Rather, I will record material completely composed going in, but as things move on in the process, there is still mutation that was certainly never considered in the beginning.
* Copia, more than some of your other albums, feels more emotional. It feels as though youâ€™re reaching out a bit more and, as a listener, I tend to respond more empathetically towards the music. Is this intentional? If so can you tell us about some of the emotions that you experienced during your recording and/or emotions you wanted to convey?
That’s a tough call because it’s hard for me to say that. Although the changes and interest in earlier records can be considered more subtle, I wouldnâ€™t go so far as to say they are less emotional or conveying any less than my newer stuff. That being said, there was definitely a part of me, while recording Copia, that wanted to push the envelope musically a little bit. Before writing any of the music, my original idea was to do something over the top dark. I kept on picturing something ala Phantom Of the Opera or at least the resounding quality of that kind of insanity, but when the songs came they were much different in notation. Around that time I read a poem by my friend Emily Wahl (she also played Clarinet on Lambent Material) and how the poem made me feel was exactly what I was beginning to feel with working on Copia, which to me, at least, is trying to discuss the idea of “the future”, having the ability to be anything we wanted. It doesn’t have to be like what movies show us, like in The Terminator or Blade Runner or Thx 1138. It can also be full of lush nature, prosperous for everyone, and a common sense world filled with understanding and perhaps, to even take that a step further, to be comfortable with the possibility that this future may not be ours, but it will be someone’s.
* Have you begun working on any new projects? Can you give us a preview of some sort?
Iâ€™ve got a few things slowly moving forward here. Recently a new project called Concert Silence released a free album at concertsilence.net, and we are pretty proud of that work – warts and all, as they say.
I have also been putting together some loose sketches for Eluvium, but Iâ€™m still a ways off from anything solid so I can’t really say much about it yet.
Iâ€™ll be touring most of the first half of 2008 so after that is all done, Iâ€™ll probably start to focus more on both of those projects. Iâ€™ve got a few other things keeping me entertained for the time being. Where they will eventually end up – no one knows.
* If the audience of your albums could walk away with one thing, what would you like that to be?
Everything will be okay.